Even if you're a doomer.
The Misdirection of Rage
Climate change isn’t killing us. Stupidity is.
We live in humanity’s most dangerous time since the advent of civilization 6,000 years ago, defined by agriculture that transformed us from wandering hunter-gatherers into settled societies. This explosion of dependable calories was also the beginning of the explosion of our population, and mastery and destruction of what we have foolishly considered to this point to be an inexhaustible natural world. Agriculture created time to think and invent, ponder the mysteries of life and the universe, the development of written language, specialization in jobs, the need for organized governance, and unfortunately, standing armies with which we have been killing each other ever since.
In spite of our innate violent behavior, life in numerous ways became safer, more comfortable and controllable. Scientific knowledge advanced, and the arts grew in sophistication.
We learned some basics. The Earth is round. The Greek mathematician Eratosthenes, who was also the head of the Great Library at Alexandria, Egypt, the famous repository of knowledge for the ancient world, proved it with a simple stick in the ground. He knew that at noon on the summer solstice, no vertical shadows were cast in the city of Syene, south of Alexandria. On a summer solstice, he planted a stick in Alexandria that cast a shadow of seven degrees, proving the Earth has a curvature. He also calculated the circumference of the earth accurately within a few hundred kilometers with this simple, but brilliant science.
We learned the Earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around. Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was forced to argue endlessly with the Roman Catholic Church about the remarkable observation he made without even the aid of a telescope, the truth of heliocentrism — that the Earth was not the center of the universe. This was an extremely dangerous idea to the church. Galileo Galilei, (February 15, 1564 – 8 January 8, 1642) who invented the telescope in 1609, spent the last years of his life as a prisoner after trial and condemnation by the Roman Catholic Inquisition for heresy. His crime? Like Copernicus, having the courage to speak truth to power, to write, publish, teach and defend the fact that the Earth orbits the sun. He faced abject ignorance dressed in lavish riches and housed in monumental edifice, financed by the average citizen. Galileo was sentenced to house arrest in 1633 where he remained a prisoner until his death.
Such is the hubris of humanity, its arrogance to think we are the center of everything and punish people who know otherwise.
“In the sciences, the authority of thousands of opinions is not worth as much as one tiny spark of reason in an individual man.” — Galileo Galilei
Today, the rejection of science continues. Even as the oceans rise from Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice sheet melt, even as previously impossible fires rage world over, even as killer heat waves lasting weeks take lives, even as crop failures increase from an ever more fluctuating jet stream, even as insurers pull out of markets because climate risks have become too great, we grant climate change deniers positions of power.
Forget the Flat Earth Society and the Creationism Museum in Kentucky, where it’s earnestly believed the world is just 6,000 years old and that we lived alongside dinosaurs. This is mere farcical entertainment compared to the danger of much of our elected leadership, and the insatiable greed and machinations of billionaires destroying an inhabitable planet and driving the Sixth Extinction, which will eventually claim all of us if left on its current path. There is also the pervasive matter of 24/7 brainwashing, teaching us consumption is happiness.
I wrote two articles on wet bulb temperature recently, the limit of heat conditions to which the human body can adapt before death occurs. Life in the oceans have wet bulb temperatures limits as well. Alaskan snow crab season was cancelled in 2022, as an estimated one billion of the crustaceans vanished. It was cancelled again in 2023. Lesser known, between 2018 and 2021, eleven billion of these crabs disappeared. After study, it appears they starved to death. A cold-water species, they were unable to forage for food in high ocean temperatures. This is not an anomaly. In July 2021, a record shattering heat dome off of Canada’s Pacific coast killed one billion marine animals with sustained temperatures of 104° F (40° C). The same heat dome contributed to 500 human heat related deaths that summer and the burning of the town of Lytton to the ground. I remember being stunned to learn temperatures in western Canada reached 121.28° F (49.6° C). Canada is not exactly the Mohave Desert. It seemed impossible.
Of course, we can forget that now, as this year Canada created new memories. My unlucky neighbors to the north set astonishing new records with 45.7 million acres (18.5 million hectares) burned in 2023 according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center as compared to the old record of 17.5 million acres burned in a season (7.1 million hectares). 45.7 million acres is about the size of the state of North Dakota. Over 200,000 people had to be evacuated and as many as five billion trees may have burned, releasing an estimated two billion tons of carbon dioxide. However, you can bet under current Canadian leadership the province of Alberta will keep pumping that tar sand oil, cha-ching, cha-ching.
Lori Daniels, a professor in the department of forest and conservation sciences at the University of British Columbia, commented in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article:
"I would say we've crossed a tipping point. This summer across Canada has been absolutely astounding in terms of wildfire...These are the types of fires that I think will be ecosystem changing. It will take decades to centuries for those ecosystems to recover, if they recover, given the confounding influence of climate change."
Of course, there was more news around the world in the hottest summer ever recorded. Coral reefs, whose magical beauty has mesmerized most of us in breathtaking documentaries, even if not as divers, are being bleached repeatedly. Although coral can be resilient, sustained higher ocean temperatures without relief are taking their toll. Water in the Florida Keys hit 101.9° F (38.43° C) in July as compared to normal temperatures of 73° F to 88° F (23° C and 31° C) according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Furthermore, since the late 1970s, the Florida Keys have been the victim of a 90 percent decline of healthy coral. Experts have described the rapid and profound death of coral reefs as “unprecedented.” This is a result of climate change, in addition to pollution, overfishing, storms and disease.
The beauty of coral reefs is intrinsic. However, their importance is far deeper than a natural wonder, as they protect shorelines and provide wild habitats that sustain billions of people worldwide, mostly poor, who rely on fishing as their primary source of income and food. Just like agriculture on land, if it is diminished as a food source, it will have profound implications for civilization as we know it.
Fortunately, we have the right leaders to save us. Not.
When the internet opened to the public, I naively thought finally, this is the tool that will make truth common knowledge and lift humanity to a higher level. How wrong I was. Instead, porn, spurious information on social media, and unsustainable commerce promoting consumption and destruction of the planet proliferate. Once a pool of knowledge for the scientific community, the Internet is now largely a cesspool. We have Mark Zuckerberg, whose Facebook allowed Russian disinformation to undermine our election integrity. We have Jeff Bezos, whose feudal Amazon empire enables ever faster mindless consumerism. We have the megalomaniac and apartheid raised Elon Musk, perhaps the greatest monster of all, whose purchase of Twitter, formerly a bastion for journalists and the scientific community, has been degraded into a platform of hate. Bullied as a child, Musk has manipulated the platform’s algorithms to make his voice the loudest. His purchase of Twitter was no mistake, it was part of a plan.
Furthermore, strange and awkward Elon now possesses more than 50 percent of all active satellites orbiting the Earth. He plans to launch tens of thousands more. His satellites can deliver the internet to almost anywhere on the globe, giving him access over global communications — and the ability to cut them off. He has already demonstrated his willingness to be a player in military conflicts by turning off Starlink in Ukraine when it suited him. Does anyone else think that’s a problem? Never mind his adolescent fantasy of colonizing Mars.
Just days ago, Musk suggested that Wikipedia, one of the actually useful places on the internet to find valuable information, change its name to Dickipedia. He offered $1 billion. This is the level of maturity of this man who wields inordinate power.
It’s no coincidence. Even dolts like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott know that education and information are dangerous to power. That’s why we’re seeing a growing attack on education at all levels, including librarians and book bans.
I understand right-wing rage. I do. Liberals have licked the boots of corporate power just as much as the right.
It’s not like we can afford to get any dumber. Look at who we elect to power. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebert, Lindsey Graham, Joe Manchin, Matt Gaetz, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and numerous other stomach churning wannabe Hitlers and Hitlerettes, most with the IQs of a can of baked beans, hiding behind a flimsy veneer of pseudo Christianity. I doubt Jesus would approve of this lying, automatic weapon promoting rabble.
The Christian right has even managed to get creationism taught alongside evolution in school, as if it’s legitimate science. If our kids are lucky and don’t get gunned down in school, they can learn this BS. I have no problem with creationism being taught as part of Bible studies, but to teach it as science is to say the Earth is flat again. This is madness, a complete failure of politics used for power to undermine education.
I understand right-wing rage. I do. Liberals have licked the boots of corporate power just as much as the right. Wages have been driven down as CEO pay skyrockets. Unions have been broken (making a bit of a comeback, finally), but the wealth gap has never been more obscene. Healthcare costs are through the roof and employers aren’t required to pay employees for vacation time, sick time past five days, termination pay, or any sort of retirement benefits in vast areas of the economy, particularly the service sector. At the same time, good jobs have been disappearing for decades, shipped overseas to fatten corporate bottom lines. People are fed up and angry, justifiably so. This anger has been cynically manipulated to create culture wars, allowing the enemy to hide in plain sight. Okay, I’m a liberal, a word that has been made poison by the far-right, but I get it, I’m affected by this corruption, too. I am not the enemy.
The problem is disinformation hiding behind free speech through the channels of Fox “News,” the rantings of diseased and deceased Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, InfoWars Alex Jones and myriad others who have twisted who the enemy is to make a lot of money. The enemy isn’t black, white, gay, straight, or trans. It’s not liberal or conservative. It’s power. It’s always power. Everything else is divide and conquer strategy.
I would bet many in the Roman Catholic Church knew Copernicus and Galileo were absolutely correct in their science, but chose to suppress the truth for power.
Now, more than ever, we need to unite to fight our common, existential threat, climate change. Our political system, corrupted by money, is slow and ineffectual. Half of our elected leadership doesn’t believe it’s real, downplays the warming as something natural. It is not. The science of global warming is established. The effects are with us now and only going to worsen. Our military recognized it as early as 1990, see this declassified Navy document. Exxon knew the truth in the 1970s from their own scientists, which they funded to investigate the matter. Then they covered it up. If we don’t slow and reverse climate change now, we will never have the opportunity to do so again. Agricultural failure and ocean loss will undermine the world food supply, drive famine, war and massive human migration. Economies will collapse in even the most powerful countries, and authoritarianism will rise. People like myself speaking the truth will be arrested and disappeared, probably tortured. One only has to look at Chile under Augusto Pinochet for evidence, where neoliberal economics, invented by the Chicago Boys at the University of Chicago, destroyed Chilean society as tens of thousands were abducted, tortured, imprisoned and executed for simply wanting to have decent, fair lives.
The rage many of us feel is justified. Its misdirection is a danger to us all.